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Discussion: IOF Reflections

in: Orienteering; General

Jul 1, 2017 7:08 PM # 
I started a blog on the workings of the IOF. It has received quite a bit of traffic from this site after I mentioned it in a different thread, so I thought it would make sense to create a separate thread for discussion.

I was the Chairman of the MTBO Commission for four years. Saw more of the internal workings of the IOF establishment than ever wanted to see. I resigned in December 2016 when I could bear it any longer.

Posts so far:
- Why did I start to write this blog
- IOF Finances – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Highest standards of transparency
- WOD 2017 – beyond the headlines
- Where the money is coming from
- Live Orienteering in action
Jul 1, 2017 9:37 PM # 
You paint a picture of IOF finances that seems similar to what OUSA had been facing in recent years, and dealt with recently by major budget cuts, just before it would have run out of money.
Jul 1, 2017 10:03 PM # 
I am not painting the picture. I am trying to reflect reality ;-)

I was also shocked about the situation until I started to scratch the surface. I knew that the situation was not rosy, but never expected to be so bad. 8 year decline eroded reserves to a dangerous level. The budgets accepted a year ago turned out to be way too optimistic.

In January the combined result of 2016-17 was revised downwards by approximately €160k. 4 months after it was approved! Compare this to total reserves of €114k at the end of 2015, and estimated €77k at the end of 2016.

There was no vis major, no major bombshell. Simply shocking.
Jul 2, 2017 9:50 AM # 
Good to read your thoughts, Sandor. Disappointed you had to leave the MTBO Commission.
Jul 2, 2017 5:45 PM # 
Thanks, Michael. I was not happy to leave the MTBO Commission either, but could not put up with the environment of the IOF it any longer. I still do quite a bit of MTBO related work, though with no official position (and no constraints to share what I see and what I think).

I hope I can add to the general good of orienteering by sharing my insights gained over 6 years into the various activities, culture, and decision making mechanism of the IOF, so that people can make up their opinion on the course our sport is. I hope this will evolve into a broader debate and rethink our route choice as a sport.
Jul 2, 2017 7:11 PM # 
New post:

The Presidents' Conference will take place in Tartu on Wednesday, 5 July.
Will the presidents of member federations force the IOF leadership to talk about the serious financial situation?
Will the President and the Council have the courage to talk openly about the financial issues of the IOF?
According to the published agenda, all they want to discuss is how to rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Jul 2, 2017 8:28 PM # 
I like your courage that you speak about activities which are not so transperent....Do you really think that things are so bad or do you want just more transperency about everything IOF do? Bankruptcy? This is possible only when you have high debts and you can't repay with your normal incomes. In most cases you restructure costs or you cut some of the activities. This is what IOF is doing probably all the time.... maybe we all need just a detail " P&L sheet" with a clear explanation.
Jul 2, 2017 10:32 PM # 
The IOF is not bankrupt, but in a difficult financial situation. If they continue like this, bankruptcy is behind the corner.

5 out of the 8 past years since 2008 were loss making. Reserves shrunk from €230,000 to around €78,000 (a 66% drop). Does this give you the impression that management restructured costs and cut activities as needed?

In fact, they added cost and activities in the hope of increasing revenues that did not materialise. They missed their own 2016 forecast of net income made in August(!) 2016 by €100,000!
Another miss like that and no money left.

In the meantime the level of transparency has decreased (maybe not unrelated to the continued losses).

See details in
Jul 3, 2017 1:07 AM # 
Why not just increase the athlete licence fees to bring in more revenues and force participants out of the sport altogether? That way there won't be any pesky athletes to have to manage and costs should decrease dramatically.
Jul 4, 2017 8:45 PM # 
Being inspired by the WOC, here is a new post. A historic overview of IOF expense evolution from 2000 to present.

The short summary to whet your appetite:
- IOF expenses have grown unrelentlessly since 2005, from around €200,000 to a budgeted €900,000 in 2018
- Staff cost is the dominant expense that also provided the backbone for total growth, an additional confirmation of Parkinson’s Law
- Spend on IT systems has exploded from €0 in 2013 to a planned €110,000 in 2018 – or close to 4 times what the IOF spends on quality assurance for all events in a typical year
- The Olympic project is a less visible sink for freely spendable money, but its average annual cost is comparable to all spend on IOF event quality
- Some growth is related to taking on flow through expenses (TV, AD), that were part of the sport, but now they are more visible, which is a good thing.
Jul 4, 2017 10:02 PM # 
Why not just increase the athlete license fees

Brilliant idea, it should be implemented by OUSA. Only fully certified, licensed, background-checked athletes are eligible to compete. Orienteering is an elite sport, just like golf , it is not for poor people. Those irredeemable, the deplorables etc. do not belong here.
Jul 5, 2017 12:00 AM # 
This is not to express a view on the substantive matters that Sandor raises, but in largely voluntary organisations seeking to raise their game, there's an understandable transfer of work from volunteer to paid. It's not all the Parkinson effect.

I'll try and illustrate it with my situation, I once had a salaried job with a government agency. When I did work for my club or the national federation, there was no pay, and I claimed expenses only. In truth there was probably a subsidy provided by my employer to orienteering in the form of (some) time, photocopying etc. There was no recompense for running my car, any orienteering business was incidental to being a competitor, or my personal affairs.

The time came when the job ended, and I became an orienteering contractor/retailer. I contracted for mapping, I became the federation's first paid employee at 1 day/week, and I took a cardboard box of compasses to events for sale. As time went on I faced many other costs of running a business - accounting, pitching for business (not all of which transpired), insurance, buying a trailer for the increased equipment, running a computer etc etc Now all of those things that were merely incidental to my old job became costs. Including most of my mileage. And holidays.

So for me a whole lot of costs ceased to become "free" and became real. Posting off some compasses for example involves time and mileage as its not just done on the way to something else. For clubs, more and more mapping was contracted. For the federation, more jobs have been put on a paid basis. Partly this is a result of a desire to "appear more professional" but its also a recognition by orienteers of reduced leisure time and our inability to do some things with volunteers.

I am sure this effect is at work in the IOF. The question is are we getting value for the paid staff. I have the same worries about my federation.
Jul 5, 2017 5:37 AM # 
Michael, You are right that part of the expense growth is unavoidable with changing times, and once you start, it is difficult to stop on the slope.

The question is how much can the IOF (in essence, we) afford. More staff, and more paid activities, and bigger Olympic dreams, and eventor, and even bigger eventor, and Live Center - and renewed Live Orienteering, and more AD, and more media, and the dreams have no limits.

5 loss making years out of the past 8, disappearance of 2/3 of the reserves, and very little sustainable change to show for it. We need a little miracle to happen: commercial revenue increase by a magnitude, and no financial "surprises" for years. Neither of them looks likely.

Otherwise the music will stop soon, and somebody will have to pick up the tab. And have no illusion, we (athletes and volunteer organisers) will pay for it, either directly in more IOF fees, or through our national federations.
Jul 5, 2017 9:11 AM # 
Just a minor nit-pick to the newest blog entry: the WorldGames 2017 are in Wroclaw, not Warsaw.
Jul 5, 2017 9:25 AM # 
OK, it looks they spent more in the last years.

Here is my thoughts about IT. For IT budget I remembered that they said that Eventor will be a huge benefit not just for IOF but also for federations. Can you name pros & cons for a period from the date when they bought it. Spending a huge money over and over on IT solutions is questionable especialy with limited results. What future investments in IT can bring; process simplifications, better UX, less manual work, etc. Investing in IT is always a strategic desicion and maintenance can also be very expensive. Did IOF make the right steps here?

If IOF invest in IT mostly our / federation's money and not money they have secured based on their marketing activities or income from the LIVE platform why we as a financial contributor (federations) can't have access to the LIVE platform? It can be limited to 5/10 users & with the agreed rules for public broadcast but this could give each federation a chance to make a special promotional event for each WOC. Why IOF is not willing to make a project (similar to WOD) how to enter on new markets / pilot projects / promotional events. These questions should be resolved /presented before each new investment in IT. We need to look diferently on our assests that we already have and that we still want to finance and develop. It would be great to have a report, numbers,... on what IOF really achieved so far with IT LIVE platform.
Jul 5, 2017 10:09 AM # 
Thanks, jSh!
Jul 5, 2017 10:51 AM # 
I am yet to meet (or hear) about an IOF event organiser (WRE, World Cup, various Championships), who - on balance - was positive about Eventor. It may, and I stress may, work for pure elite events. For others the process is more complicated, more manual work involved, lot's of frustration for being forced to use the system. I will have a separate post about Eventor issues later.

I agree that that major decisions, like investments in strategic IT solutions, should be broadly discussed using numbers. Currently the practice is different, to put it mildly. From within the IOF structures it was impossible to have meaningful discussions. That's why I started my blog after I left.

If you are interested in the performance of the Live platform, you may read the PR article about it:

It is my note that few of the positive things mentioned have anything to do with the Live platform, but more about TV broadcast, and online activity in general like sharing IOF posts. The "3000 watching the stream" does not match with the numbers I remember seeing on-screen that peaked around 1000. (Anybody saw different numbers??) So yes, I agree, it would be great to have a report, numbers,... on what IOF really achieved so far with IT LIVE platform - both the current one and the previous one.
Jul 11, 2017 6:07 PM # 
Insolvency, bankruptcy, and Orienta

Trying to clarify some basic financial concepts through the situation of Orienta, an artist in her mid 50s. She is trying to switch from a cheap and cheerful lifestyle to a fourfold more expensive one at the detriment of her finances. We have a look at what insolvency and technical bankruptcy would mean for her.
Jul 12, 2017 8:32 AM # 
Heh. Heh.
BTW if anyone is interested in that famous "art festival organised every 4 year" look at another "artist" wanting to get in. Dancesport is on that road (or thinks it is). There used to be 2 world organisations, one professional, one amateur, until about 10 or so years ago. Then, one of them decided to want to become part of the Olympics. It started to change rules - to what it sees as becoming more aligned to what the Olympic dreams require. Now, there are about 6 world organisations (I lost count), including competing "world championships", competitors and officials are basically only going to limited number of events, there is no single event where all the best are competing together, and by now, even the dances that are called the same, look quite different in the different organisations. The one thing that isn't a mess, is the financial situation of one organisation which is very strong (but then it was even when it started the process). Or at least that's what it looks like, I haven't checked the balances/cash flow closely.
Jul 12, 2017 11:05 PM # 
Yes, that is a very good point I also plan to write about. The money that is the main objective in the wild goose chase for Olympic participation may shake up things quite a bit. Imagine SkiO getting $1m-$2m sgrant from the IOC while current IOF budget is below $1m. Difficult to imagine no strain in the system. The good thing is that it is very very unlikely.
Jul 13, 2017 9:55 AM # 
The point is not what money would do to the organisation once the sport is in the Olympics. The point is what the PROMISE of a potential of that money (or raised profile of the sport in many ways) does to the sport that is chasing it - almost in all cases with absolutely no hope of getting in (and for many reasons it is extremely unlikely that ANY new sport gets in, the very few that might, are all waaay ahead in the long queue of sports federations wanting participation status).
Jul 13, 2017 11:14 AM # 
The Olympics do seem to allow a trickle of new sports, but they seem to be ones that the young like to watch, like snowboarding. America's national Olympic committee did pay for several nice maps near its national Olympic training center, which are still used frequently. Getting in the Olympics does seem unlikely though.
Jul 13, 2017 8:28 PM # 
I have always been under the impression that Ski-O was (much) more likely to be a demonstration sport in the Winter Olympics, than foot-O in the Summer Olympics.
Jul 13, 2017 8:52 PM # 
Supposedly, if ski o gets in, it will immediately be a full medal sport, because it had been a demonstration sport half a century ago. But I'm not sure whether that story is true. The question is whether ski o is thrilling enough, like extreme sports. (Extreme ski o? Might be worth a try if someone really does want Olympic inclusion. Otherwise give it up.)
Jul 14, 2017 3:36 AM # 
There's no such thing as demonstration sports any more (hasn't been since the 1980s, in fact). However, host cities are going to be allowed to select a small number (not sure how many) of medal sports. No doubt they'll do this with at least half an eye to the home country's medal prospects - with Paris seeming likely to get 2024, perhaps it would have been in our interests for Thierry still to be around....(One thing that does work in our favour here is that by the standards of Olympic sports, our infrastructure is dirt-cheap).

I still think Olympic inclusion is a long shot, but with the changes that have been made at the IOC level, it's perhaps a 10% longshot rather than a 5% longshot. (I'm also of the view that a lot of the things that are being done towards making a bid for the Olympics, like making the sport more spectator- and viewer-friendly, are broadly in our interests whether the Olympics existed or not).

The reason why ski-O was mentioned a fair bit some years back was that at the time, unlike the Summer Games which was trying to control its size, the Winter Games were actively looking for new events - the logic being that 2 weeks is the realistic minimum length for the Games because that's how long it takes to play an ice hockey tournament (although if that's the consideration, I'm not sure why they can't start group-stage matches before the opening ceremony, as football does for the Summer Games?), but there wasn't really enough other content to fill 2 weeks. I'm not sure if this is still the case.
Jul 14, 2017 7:03 AM # 
I would say 10% longshot is too optimistic. Beside new sports for Tokyo 2020 also most of the sports which are already in preparing changes in disciplines to fit within IOC agenda and TV youth viewership. We can't gain any advantage over the other sports just because we already have mix-relay.


"Plans call for staging the skateboarding and sports climbing events in temporary venues installed in urban settings, marking a historic step in bringing the Games to young people and reflecting the trend of urbanisation of sport."

I think the security issues have become too big and important aspects of the Olympics that they would not let people running around the city. Whatever we do, we all know that temporary venue could be the only chance to have at least 1% long-term shot. This calls for -> Maze orienteering on Stadium. I'm not interested in such "simplification and urbanisation of our sport" and that is the reason why we need to fix open IOF directions for this on-going Olympic process. I would rather see that IOF GA vote on this question so we can put this idea from the table and that we all know that Stadium orienteering is not a possible direction for officials. If we don't vote then the question is open and officials will have no problem in the future to throw more money into promotion and to test new best "olympic discipline".
Jul 14, 2017 5:45 PM # 
Big custom-planted corn maze. Just sayin'...
Jul 14, 2017 9:05 PM # 
The online coverage of major orienteering events has lots of interest to orienteers. To make it of interest to the public, I think that it needs a few more things:

- head cam in addition to live GPS track, so that the viewer can see what it looks like. Orienteers can imagine this quite easily, less so the public. Perhaps also 3D graphics depicting the terrain.

- pre recorded segments discussing the various routes on the long legs, with video of someone doing sections of each route, or 3D graphics to better let the viewer see what the terrain is like and what the choices are. Also segments discussing the terrain, and the challenges it poses. Maybe segments discussing the choice of shoe, and its impact on running on rock, logs, moss, etc. And of course personal background segments (human interest).

- Lots more camera coverage, such drones, fixed cameras, hand held chase cams, etc.

- Show the races head to head, to some degree. For instance, overlay the position of top competitors at thae same time in their race atop the map and track of the current competitor.

- Shots of blood and gore. Maybe competitors splashing through muddy marshes would suffice. Or racing downhill at great speed.

One can argue about whether appealing to the great unwashed is a good thing, but if that's the desire (and Olympics are heavily centered around appeal to the masses, as is much television), then I suspect that such things are needed.
Jul 15, 2017 12:28 AM # 
I'm all for new forms of orienteering and have embraced rogaining, MTBO, PWT, Orientshow etc with interest, and local experimentation. The terms "long distance" and "sprint" could be limiting our thinking to races between 12-100 minutes, there are lots of fun possibilities both above and below that.

But I think that Sandor's point is that in pursuing some of these, our international body is being reckless with the money at its disposal. Especially when there are signs that some of our highest level events are not as technically sound as they should be. Elsewhere on AP are suggestions that a JWOC race this week might have been affected by unmapped tracking caused by the Fin5 public event. We could debate whether these are occasional and understandable faults, or whether the QA side of the sport is under-resourced.
Jul 15, 2017 7:41 AM # 
I will make a positive vote for eventor. It makes a big difference to the challenges organising events. Positive in my opinion and experience.
Jul 15, 2017 8:13 AM # 
I think the wider point is, for a large organisation the question should be having a (realistic) vision of where the sport is headed, and then figure out what needs to be done to get there, then make sure there is sufficient funding to walk through that road.

If an organisation's sole target is to get to the Olympics (I am not saying that is the case with IOF, but I know it was the case with one organisation in DanceSport which is why I referred to it), then it will take all action and focus all money on that. If that goal is not achievable, then not only all the money and effort is wasted, AND the sport is transformed to something different for no good reason, but at the same time the opportunity to shape it to something that would be better for the sport is lost.

So it is a question of both the direction we are travelling and whether the way we do it is appropriate, in my mind. If (if) the IOF is trying to take us to somewhere where we can not ever go, and go bankrupt at the same time, we both change the sport in ways that may harm the sport itself and lose the governing body at the same time. There could be some positive changes as side effects, but who says we could not get those positive changes as well (and much more) whilst targeting more realistic goals and spending money sensibly? Wasting money and effort on something you can not get diverts that money and effort from something else that could be a good target instead.

With regards to Liveorienteering - I don't think anyone argues that live coverage is a bad thing. I think the question is, is it value for money and is the way it is packaged as a paid service a viable/appropriate proposition? I.e. the JWOC this week is free (although granted that the video coverage is far less professional than the WOC was), as opposed to the WOC which was paid, but don't forget that the only thing you effectively had to pay for was to actually watch it live - all the 3 components of the service (video, GPS, results) became freely available very shortly after the event was finished - and in some countries freely available through TV coverage anyway. Hence - is this a viable product as a paid service? If not, where are we expecting to recover the investment (e.g. TV licenses)? Is THAT realistic? If not, is it within the means of the IOF to pay for the development and upkeep of that service?
Jul 15, 2017 9:18 AM # 
Olympics is a dead duck..why be part of it?
Jul 15, 2017 2:33 PM # 
There are more potential options nowadays than in the past:

1) Olympics and/or TV, appealing to a mass audience
2) something like live orienteering, targeted at a subset of the public
3) something like live orienteering, targeted at orienteers
4) a quiet, obscure sport

Decades ago, the options were mostly 1 or 4. Our current status is 3. Pursuing 1 is still possible (though it's a big climb to achieve mass appeal in more than a few countries, and probably a big climb past that to Olympics), but 2 is another option, probably achievable sooner than 1. Making orienteering intelligible and compelling to a mass audience that doesn't (yet) know the sport much is a lot of work. But finding some subset of the public that loves maps, navigation, adventure racing, rogaine, puzzles, and/or running through forest (or at least watching that) seems much more feasible in today's internet marketing world. Find and appeal to a large enough such audience (say, a hundred thousand worldwide), and live orienteering (enhanced to speak to such an audience) might manage to self support via advertising, without subscription fees. And that audience might attract a little more sponsorship outside the top countries, and for the IOF. I'm not saying that orienteering should pursue 1, 2, 3 or 4, but it's a question worth asking, especially if pursuing 1 is proving too costly and too far from fruition, and 3 is proving hard to achieve at adequate quality with fees that the market will bear.
Jul 15, 2017 10:05 PM # 
Neil, are you referring to "Australian eventor" or "IOF eventor"?

I have to admit that I am yet to talk to an organiser of international events who was positive about "IOF eventor" on balance. The IOF implementation is a clumsy system in many aspects with little net benefit to the organisers.
Jul 16, 2017 1:57 AM # 
Yes, Australian.
Jul 16, 2017 6:53 AM # 
As a competitor who has had to register for both IOF Eventor and Australian Eventor, I found both an annoying extra step with no benefits, and ANOTHER bloody username and password. Why a 70-yo needs to be in IOF Eventor is beyond me.
Jul 16, 2017 7:54 AM # 
Because it will be used for WMOC entry from now on?
Jul 16, 2017 8:21 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
I use the same user name for both, as well as Swedish and Norwegian Eventor :)
Jul 16, 2017 8:25 AM # 
I love eventor(Aust)It is easy to enter and pay for events and easy access to results afterwards. I just wish all states used it to list their events. Like all technology one has to learn how to use it!
Jul 16, 2017 8:33 AM # 
Which (Aust) states don't use it to list their events?
Jul 16, 2017 8:52 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
I think all states list there events, but some dont use it for Results
Jul 16, 2017 9:33 AM # 
Not many now - as far as I know, just ACT street events, and local club events run by regional clubs in a few states. Other ACT events and Melbourne park/street have mostly come on board this year.
Jul 16, 2017 9:37 AM # 
With regards to Eventor, although I use it very little and so don't feel qualified to comment on it too much specifically, I can talk more generically on the use, problems and coordination of entry/results etc. systems more generally.

I can see the same generic problems that would present themselves here as in most other sports, namely the reality that many national federations, indeed clubs and independent organisations have their own implementations that they need for maintaining records of athletes, facilitating event entries and related purchases and logistics (i.e. buying merchandise, booking accomodation, feeding the event management systems with data or reverse for results, calculating rankings, notifying entries and officials, generating statistics for evaluation etc. etc.)

The problem here is that there will never be a system that can have all the functions implemented that is needed by every stakeholder, nor should it all be done by one system, because it would be a monster and crazy expensive to develop and maintain. Then the question is where do you draw the boundary and how to align/synchronise data interfaces, and as these systems take many shapes and forms, with different spheres of influence and coverage (some organisations choose to develop their own, others utilise a commercial offering and co-exist etc.). There are further complications when you want to synchronise - which is the system of master record (and you need consensus on this because you can't say it's the national federation's database in one case, but the international federation's database in another, and there are arguments for both which will be good for some federations but bad for another), what about internationalisation (e.g. cyrillic character based names in Russia vs mandarin characters in China etc) and how the data looks like once sychronised, etc.

And then, we haven't even been talking about how it looks to the individual athletes, as you mention, maintaining data in multiple systems etc.

This is an incredibly difficult topic and I have yet to see this work - even with federations with much more money it costs an awful lot and it isn't really about the single system the international federation uses (that should, in my view, be more one of the outcomes than the focus area), more about the federated data structure and policies debated and implemented across the landscape. Looking at IOF Eventor itself may only show the symptoms but should not be the root cause or the solution itself. I have no idea if there is/was work in the IOF around these things I mention, I suspect there is (haven't looked into the topic here, although have been working on this in other sports). A lot of this work as can be seen from the comment above would probably be incredibly boring for an average athlete and ideally invisible (although some of the policy decisions may filter down as painful but sometimes necessary admin work, such as when eliminating multiple master systems for athlete records for consistency).
Jul 16, 2017 9:38 AM # 
Back to the original topic, IOF have written to all member federations this week advising of their revised 2017 budget, with significant cuts to both forecast income and expenditure (the latter mostly a EUR 95,000 reduction in staff costs), and a revised forecast surplus of around EUR 10,000. Also of interest to some here will be that the online WOC coverage generated EUR 30,600 in revenue (compared with EUR 19,700 last year). It probably helped that word got around that, after the first day, the coverage mostly actually worked this year.
Jul 16, 2017 9:47 AM # 
Good signs, financially. Sounds like the right direction, from this limited info. Regarding WOC coverage, maybe interest (and revenue) continues to go up. If the coverage works, then I may get it next year. I dislike paying to get frustrated, but would be interested in following WOC.
Jul 18, 2017 6:56 PM # 
The IOF has published the 2016 financial report. This is a quick look analysis.

The numbers are shocking. 2016 losses were much larger than thought in January 2017. At the end of 2016 less than 2 weeks net cash reserves left. A small negative variance (far smaller than experienced in previous years!) may push the IOF over the edge.

Member federations may need to start to warm up to the idea of a cash call, say an extraordinary annual membership fee.
Jul 24, 2017 5:49 PM # 
New post:

The World Games – “the highest profile event for sports not in the Olympic Games” according to the IOF Newsletter – have started on 20 July.

Chances are that you did not hear about The World Games from other sources. It is not carried by mainstream media. Yet, the IOF spends on it well above its (our!) means in the name of the "Olympic Dream". In this post we look at the financials, in the next one at the reality of using The World Games as a stepping stone for the Olympics.
Jul 25, 2017 2:27 AM # 
The highest profile games not to have a profile...
Jul 25, 2017 7:15 PM # 
Leho Haldna, the President of the IOF, says that
"Our athletes and federations have to realise that the road to the Olympics is via The World Games, and The World Games are the highest level multi-sport event recognised by IOC where orienteering is on the programme."

Yet, only 1 of the 6 new sports selected for the permanent program after 2000 participated in The World Games, and only 2 of the 5 sports selected only for Tokyo 2020 may claim that their participation in The World Games may have had an impact on their selection. More details in the new blog post.
Jul 25, 2017 9:07 PM # 
In some countries sports officials take World Games seriously. I know the Ukrainian federation got more money from the government after Volynska's bronze in 2013. Also, there are posters with World Games participants, including orienteers, in Kiev subway, so there is extra publicity for orienteering. This Facebook post also mentions TV broadcasts. So Olympics or not, participation is beneficial in some ways.
Jul 25, 2017 11:12 PM # 
Sandor I am following your researches with interest. But the use of that very funny Hitler parody doesn't support your thesis. It illustrates conservative reaction against a number of changes in the sport which have gained acceptance and enjoyment.
Jul 26, 2017 6:03 AM # 
I dont know how other federations restructure their elite events pyramid but having European / regional champs biannually and world champs each year doesn't help to make WG as a prime elite event. Also financial and promotional aspects should be more clear so athletes, federations and fans know what are the advantages for the sport beside being part of WG. IOF and IWGA business relationship is also important for federations and it should be presented more clearly. Relationship between IOC, organizer and federations at Olympics is one of the main issue each 4 years.
Jul 26, 2017 8:58 AM # 
Any publicity is good. But Sandor's point is mainly about allocation and flow of resources. It seems IOF spends a lot of money on WG, whereas it expects to get money from the Olympics.

It brings to mind "vanity publishing" where authors who can't get a book deal pay the company. The two publishing models may look the same, even a continuum between them. But one benefits the author, the other exploits them. Is WG the vanity-publishing equivalent of the Olympics? Which makes us look like a real sport: WG, or Oringen - also on this week but stripped of its World Cup status due to the clash?

@gruver The alternate pro-innovation historical view...
Jul 26, 2017 9:30 AM # 
Publicity isn't very good if it is the same standard as yesterday's TV coverage (sprint distance). It did improve - the coverage of the men was much better than the women - but it was still pretty lousy. If it was difficult to follow even for 'real' orienteers, then how can the public be expected to follow it? WOC coverage was much better I think. Radio times working would help a lot - especially the on screen ones.

Middle seems to be a bit better - at least they film the right people at the right time, even if the radio times still aren't working perfectly. Nice forest shots, better use of tracking (almost useless in sprint at the best of times anyway)/

It is also a bit of a shame that the live results and tracking seem to be 30-60s ahead of the TV picture!
Jul 26, 2017 9:48 AM # 
Michael, one of the key questions (never really discussed) is whether urban sprint will be a colourful addition on the palette of orienteering besides traditional in-forest races, or will become the focal event at the expense of everything else.

If you prefer: was T20 played in pyjamas intended to be a colourful addition to test match series, or to take over everything completely at the expense of the death of a gentleman? (for the ones, who have no clue what lbw is, I am talking about the complete transformation in the past 10 years of international cricket, the second most popular sport in the world with over 2bn fans)

My point to be expanded later, is that the IOF Council and GA are making choices and putting the sport on a course with serious consequences in every aspect. But neither the choices, nor the consequences discussed, and probably few are really aware of what is going on, while the IOF President is talking about "our common goal".
Jul 26, 2017 11:00 AM # 
If IOF really want from us to understand the current international status of orienteering & "our common goal" then they need to do their part first. Strategic directions are more like a common vision and not goals. Activity plan is more to the point but do we really measure the RIGHT things and looking into the right information which define professional sport? When someone mention a "goal" I expect that there are a clear KPIs and annual report with figures so people can see and read what was the result of all the talks and decisions made by IOF. IOF is collecting information from federations and I asked before why we can't have those numbers summarized and publicly presented. A simple question: How many registered orienteers are in the world? Developing our own analytics would help us all to see where to spent money and manpower and to get a decent results.
Jul 26, 2017 12:16 PM # 
What makes you think that the IOF >really< want people to understand the current international status of orienteering, and not just follow the direction set?
Jul 26, 2017 2:02 PM # 
Good question!
This direction set was approved by GA so it is naturally that administration is following them. I just wanted to say that strategic directions are not so important and are overvalued by IOF officials. Take a look into the last report about strategic directions and you will probably see that we achieved a huge improvement in the field of "world sporting stage" with WG in 2013 and we will probably achieve the same with the WG 2017. I'm talking that if they want that we understand what they are talking about they need to develop a clearer goals and KPIs. I think most federations are willing to follow if the goals, implementations and comunication of the results are more clear.
Jul 26, 2017 5:54 PM # 
The GA approved the proposal submitted by the Council. The GA almost always approves proposals made by the Council. (In fact, I cannot recall any rejected Council proposals right now) Of course, that does not mean that the Council can fulfill the task. For example, the Council has missed the budget target set by the Council (and approved by the GA with no modification) - 9 years in a row.

Which is the "latest report on strategic directions" that you are referring to?
Jul 26, 2017 6:41 PM # 
To have a strategic direction, you should have a extensive consultation with the bases as well as the top. This is not the case (even if there are signs of a thaw)
In my opinion, now, we are improvising at all levels.
The big problem is that those at the head of IOF even if they improvise, want to impose.
Jul 26, 2017 7:18 PM # 
I notice that the next World Games is scheduled for Birmingham Alabama USA in 2021. Will orienteering be included? (Couldn't figure out from the WG website, though of course it lists orienteering as a WG sport.)
Jul 26, 2017 7:36 PM # 
I can't find the report but I remembered that I have seen a simple report (red, yellow, green dots) about the results of strategic direction for 2016-2012.

I'm now reading this and I see that there is a push to make KPIs and measurable goals. Very good way forward.
- KPI introduced by IOF and we actively measure development worldwide. First results in 2018.
- Detailed and spesific Goals are to be set in the Activity Plans (2 years period)
- Assessment on goals and achievements should be done every second year at the GA.
Jul 26, 2017 7:45 PM # 
Yes, orienteering will be in the 2021 World Games in Alabama.
Jul 26, 2017 7:55 PM # 
I am afraid that the management by slides approach does not really work for complex tasks like running a sport federation, as opposed routine manufacturing and service operations.

1) difficult to find KPIs that are really reflect the situation
2) many ad-hoc decisions are imposed even if they contradict the goals (as Marian wrote above)
3) nothing happens when KPIs are missed (see budget bottom line missed 9 years in a row)

If you find the presentation, I'll be happy to contrast it with my observations.
Jul 26, 2017 8:00 PM # 
We just visited Wroclaw on a road trip through Scandinavia and Eastern Europe and are now in Czech at the Bohemian 5 Day.

In Wroclaw there was lots of posters and promotions of the Word Games but we had no idea it was on until we arrived in the city.

Nothing on our AP accounts or Facebook so a pleasant surprise to know we were in the WG City but we had to move on so missed the City Sprint.

Agree that WG does not do much for the profile of Orienteering
Jul 26, 2017 11:52 PM # 
New post on World Games compromises: A multi-sport event is always full of compromises. One day a leftover large screen shows the starters the map and route choices; the other day in the Olympic TV schedule the wakeboard semi-finals beat the Sprint Relay final, the most dynamic, and TV and Olympic friendly of all possible orienteering formats.

On our way to the Olympics.
Jul 27, 2017 10:45 AM # 
The World Games – what shall we call this?

I am lost for words. I really feel for poor Isia, the first runner of the French team on today’s Sprint Relay. I hope her injuries are not too bad, and she was lucky enough to avoid serious consequences of a situation that could have ended in a very, very bad way.

When all the top management talk is about high flying ambitions, attractiveness, TV production, and dignified ceremonies just like in the Olympics – it focuses the mind of organisers in one way. When there is also talk about athletes’ safety, it helps tremendously to avoid mishaps like the one we saw today.

I hate to write about this today.
Jul 27, 2017 11:31 AM # 
I saw this during the coverage and was really taken aback. Feeling for poor Isia (I don't know her), it looked horrible on the coverage.

I agree that it was something that should have been avoided, or at least foreseen. I was upset that as it happened, there was no sign also of anyone helping her - checking if she was OK for example. I was thinking - maybe it was unavoidable that the runners had to run through those bollards, but then surely this hazard was known and they would have been alerted to this up front? So I now checked and it is not mentioned in Bulletin 4, nor in the material for the team officials meeting. The organisers did request "Please keep the silence in WCK Pergola building, there will be Bilard event" (I assume they meant billiards), which is obviously a more important message than athlete safety??

Given that this hazard was in an obvious place, no helpers nearby in case something happened, no warning about the hazard, no taping or visual warning signs on the hazard itself, makes me think this wasn't assessed as a risk...

I just hope Isia isn't seriously hurt and recovers quickly.
Jul 27, 2017 12:36 PM # 
I'm sure we all hope she'll be fine, and she did manage to complete the course.

But, however much we might like to beat up on IOF, once we start looking for other people to blame when someone runs into a bollard, the sport is truly ****ed.
Jul 27, 2017 1:12 PM # 
Yeah, I am with Graeme on this one. It is really sad what happened, and it was quite painful to watch, but putting the blame on the organizers for this is a bit of a stretch. Not running into things while reading a map at full speed is definitely a part of our sport.
Jul 27, 2017 1:38 PM # 
Generally speaking, I agree.
If these bollards were a bit further into the course, I would just have felt sorry for her.

I do think however that so soon after the start where the group was clearly going to be tightly bunched together, mostly with heads down looking at the map, this was a hazard that should have been thought of. I don't think this is IOF, by the way, but the organiser/course planner should have thought of this at least to the degree of mentioning it as a hazard in the instructions.

I can't remember which, but I think last years national relay champs there was an approx 1m deep gully that needed to be crossed by the mass start runners about 100m after the start, and that was clearly noted as a hazard in the final instructions, so everyone knew.

On balance for example whilst a few competitors fell slipping on the stones in the zoo, I would expect that to be fully within the bounds of an orienteering race. It rained. They were slippery surfaces. Comes with the sport.
Jul 27, 2017 2:58 PM # 
Events that this level have IOF advisors to think about this kind of thing that the normal punters think about. If she'd been seriously hurt it could have been a PR disaster. It would have been very easy to have a Tour de France style marshal with a flag in front of the bollards. There were two gormless spectators next to her, one of them could have done it (or at the very least helped her out!)
Jul 27, 2017 4:02 PM # 
I couldn't disagree with Graeme and Boris more.

We all understand that this is an 'adventure sport' and we 'take part at our own risk', and our own health is inherently our own responsibility, however, this situation clearly maximised the danger to the runners and could have been easily avoided had the SEA done their job properly (which from my experience has never happened).

You imply that this is Basset's fault and not the organisers. However, I would argue that at the start of a sprint relay race the pace is extremely high, the athletes have only just started to read the map to understand the complex route-choices so are paying a lot of attention to that, they are also running extremely close together, with Basset not at the front with a clear view of terrain in front of her. All it takes is her to be looking at her map and the runner in front of her to dive out of the way at the last minute and you have an accident. This was as accident waiting to hapen, and to blame her is ridiculous. What do you suggest she do? Not look at her map, or not run in the pack? The onus is squarely with the organisers for this one (not the IOF directly, but someone has an axe to grind, and I fully support them with that). And I think a court might just agree. We should ask the PWT wha.... oh, wait, we can't.

If I were France, I'd be genuinely considering taking things further.
Jul 27, 2017 4:08 PM # 
+1 Nixon, sadly
Jul 27, 2017 8:09 PM # 
Common sense, and anticipating what can go wrong, at the margin, results in a production with fewer chances for problems. And isn't that what any event organizer would want? For a real sport?
Jul 27, 2017 9:59 PM # 
While there may be desire to blame someone(s), when bringing in international sprint relays was being discussed, the view was expressed that a serious incident was only a matter of time.
Jul 27, 2017 10:11 PM # 
Those criticising the organisers or the IOF: honestly, are you absolutely sure you would have thought about this situation and prevented it if you were organising or controlling the event? This is not a standard situation and mass start urban events are somewhat rare so nobody has much experience organising them. Now everybody has paid attention and hopefully something like this will be less likely to happen in the future. The organisers have done many things right and just one seriously wrong and I am sure they feel bad about it - have a bit of mercy.

And please keep in mind that worse things have happened in supposedly more "serious" sports and events - remember the luge fatality in the Vancouver Olympics?
Jul 27, 2017 11:05 PM # 
Whether or not it could have been foreseen, it seems worth future organizers looking out for significant hazards near such a mass start, and mentioning them or changing the logistics to avoid them. As Nixon pointed out, in a mass start of a high level event, the competitors are in a tight pack running fast reading their maps. Seeing bollards or such must be particularly hard, given the combination of density and high speed, plus need to read the map. Elsewhere in the event, it's probably not feasible to eliminate (or even list) such hazards. The area of a mass start seems a particular situation.
Jul 28, 2017 8:07 AM # 
It is difficult to miss this if you devote just a bit of time and mindshare to safety.

A non-standard situation is not an excuse. High level organisers and event advisers shall realize when they face a non-standard situation - and pay extra attention to what may happen, before it happens!

Of course, this is a question of mindset. When all the talk in top management is about ceremonies, protocol, and of course Olympics, that focuses the mind in one way. Almost all Council minutes since 2010 deal with the Olympics. In 7 years "safety" is mentioned only on one occasion as a side point.
Jul 28, 2017 9:36 AM # 
Yes, at the very start of a race the runners must read the map and can't pay such attention to footing. But once they've figured the route to #1, they're into regular sprint mode. Standard urban furniture some 200m from the start and after the first route-choice decision is the runner's look out.
The PWT incident was a lot more serious and non-standard. I don't know the details, so maybe you're right that it was a good thing they got ****ed. Personally, I think it was a shame.
Jul 28, 2017 10:51 AM # 
It is sad that the only discussion is about why EA or SEA didnt do his/her job. Each sport has its own problems and the professional one has a better learning curve. Personally I think we have a problem with the empowerment out of the IOF Council. Everything need to be controlled and approved by them. Why FOC can't have a voice in such situations. e.g. In my eyes IOF fail is here because they are not able to communicate with the media, athletes, federations, fans when something out of the box happen. Same with SEA reports, complaints and jury decisions for elite events.

It is a risk that we get even more negative comments but on the other hand we can create a system where more people would understand that the only reason to open the processes is to develop and innovate them. To do this step is a Council job. We need an organization where responsible commisions can innitate a prototype projects without a Council permision and to test them. When people make their best then Council could make a political decision what to do with them.
Jul 28, 2017 12:01 PM # 
It was 10-15m from the map start flag. They just started to reconcile the terrain with the map. They could not see the terrain earlier on the 200m run out. The direction they had to tackle the row of bollards was at a very narrow angle (look the video and the picture on the blog). The pack was tight, as expected. Nothing that one may call a regular sprint mode.
Jul 28, 2017 12:12 PM # 
Actually, I think the issue of the SEA-role is crucial.

The IOF deficit isn't so huge on the scale of a big event or even big O-club. The desired IOF budget is not unreasonable for an organisation running an international sport. But O-events are *only* profitable on the back of huge volunteer input. The big shake-up in WOC, and associated funding problems, isn't due to anything sporting, its simply that nobody was willing to volunteer to work with the IOF.

The SEA is the interface between IOF and the volunteers. Between the people who need the money and those who can generate it. Nothing puts volunteers off more effectively than being told what to do by some pompous incompetent who subsequently takes no responsibility for their mistakes.
Jul 28, 2017 6:10 PM # 

"Nothing puts volunteers off more effectively than being told what to do by some pompous incompetent who subsequently takes no responsibility for their mistakes"

Now there is something we can agree on!!!
Jul 29, 2017 1:58 PM # 
I've got to say that after reading Graeme's points on Nopesport on the WG incident, I would like to slightly revise my views. (I can't comment there, the admin seems to have abandoned the platform and my registration request is unattended for well over a year now - not that it would matter much but from time to time it would be more useful to reply there.)

Graeme makes the point that the athletes had all the run-out funnel to spread out, read their maps and prepare for the terrain, also that the first routechoice point has been passed when the incident happened. I have reviewed the video again as well as the map, and Graeme has a point.
I still think that there should have been at least some kind of a warning issued about the safety hazard, especially since the map does not mark something that in reality did affect the runner's ability to spread out or even take the routechoice to their right. Specifically, there was a barrier parallel to the direction the runners were coming from on their right, and only a short strip where there were bollards where they could join the road surface. They actually came at it at a narrow angle which made it more likely that a bollard was going to be in their way, and the barrier almost lead them into the bollard. They could really not consider the barrier based on the map since it wasn't on it - in fact, looking on Google Maps streetview, obviously an earlier shot of the same area it shows bollards all the way, where there currently the barrier is. The accident actually happened about 5s after they passed the start kite, most of that 5s they were actually running next to the barrier without a good chance to either turn right for the other routechoice (if they missed the 1s window where they could have turned right exactly at the start flag).

That said, they did have the chance to make their mind up about the first part of their course, made their initial routechoice decision and had the opportunity to choose to look up to see where they are going.

Obviously what happened at this point (as probably is a choice that most runners made or would be making) is to take the opportunity to use what on the map looked like a lot of dead running initially to try and read ahead and make their mind up about the choices they had to make later on in the zoo. So their heads were looking down not to initially try and make sense of the map, fold it etc. but planning ahead, not expecting a hazard.

So on balance and after consideration like I mentioned above I still think the runners should have been alerted to the hazard but I don't think any more that it was as egregious as it looked to me initially.
Jul 31, 2017 9:29 PM # 
New blog post:

The number of Council meetings since 2010 where ceremonies were discussed was almost two times higher than the combined number of meetings where safety, accidents, injuries, athletes health and wellbeing, or competition fairness was mentioned. The number of times Olympics was mentioned in substance was 5 times higher.

This appears to be in stark contrast with the Ethical Principles of the IOF declared in the IOF Code of Ethics: “In pursuing the sport’s goals, the governance of Orienteering shall be mindful of the physical and psychological wellbeing of its athletes.”

More details in the new post.
Aug 1, 2017 12:54 AM # 
In part, that's because a lot of the work dealing with those items is done in the Commissions (at least for foot, and I assume it's the same for MTBO).
Aug 1, 2017 7:10 PM # 
@ blairtrewin; Or in part, they prefer not to talk about these little things (or even ignore or hide them) to not stain this wonderful dream. Because no matter how many sailors(matelots) are thrown overboard, Captain Ahab must hunt Moby Dick.

Stalas go ahead! Perhaps others who know what it is rotten to our capitains, will speak.

Personally, I recently had a strange experience in one of the new conquests of IOF; Egypt.

If in the past I have admitted that difficulties communication can create misunderstandings, now I was shocked how an EA can distort or hide reality.

Why?!? Captain Ahab must hunt Moby Dick !!
Or maybe Ishmael (The EA in Egypt) has dreams to become a new Captain...

I'll probably come back with some details in another thread.
Aug 1, 2017 9:16 PM # 
It is not the Board who should solve Health, Safety & Environment related questions.
But, if the Board never talks about with Health, Safety & Environment related questions, they will not get the required attention at lower levels.

What we see is that the Council in essence never deals with questions of safety, accidents, injuries, athletes health and wellbeing, or even fairness. This ignorance is unavoidably impacts the whole sport.
Sep 14, 2017 4:12 PM # 
New blogpost after some planned and unplanned delay.

Back to finances after talking to Council members over the past weeks. Had to realize that they did not understand the severity of the financial situation.

Key points to understand:
- The net cash position of the IOF is practically zero. In simple terms: there is substantial money on the bank account only because there are substantial unpaid invoices.
- The IOF has started to accumulate serious debt. Short term debt has jumped almost ninefold from €29,000 to €252,000 in one year from end 2015 to end 2016.
Oct 2, 2017 2:05 PM # 
New blogpost:

As discussed last time, IOF finances are on a knife edge. Net cash reserves are close to zero level, and debt has jumped almost ninefold from €29,000 to €252,000 in one year from end 2015 to end 2016.

But that was not always so. A decade ago the IOF had sufficient net cash reserves to cover around half a year’s operations. Since then the combined effect of rising expenses (3 fold in 10 years!) and evaporating reserves (over 80% lost since end 2008) has resulted in the current situation.

Financial stability has been lost for many years to come. A serious revision of expense structure and many years of reserve building required to regain the stability the IOF enjoyed a decade ago. But that is unlikely to be delivered by a leadership involved in losing that stability.
Oct 10, 2017 1:16 AM # 
New blogpost:

I kept searching for reasons why the IOF lost its financial stability. In this post you may find some interesting details.

The IOF Council has missed the budget target every year since 2009. It would take a miracle to achieve the targets for 2017 and 2018. That makes 10 years of missed targets. 10 years of continuous underperformance.

It is unlikely that this was due to lack of skills: the leading figures of the IOF during this period (Ake, Brian and Leho) all prided themselves with business background.
Looking at recent events one may get a feeling that the IOF leadership just did not care about the budget approved by the GA, hence they could not possibly deliver it:
- it seems that the IOF has several versions of the "approved" budget
- the 2017 budget approved in August 2016 by the General Assembly was already modified by the Council just 2 months after presenting it to the GA
- the outcome of budget modification(s) started in October 2016 was not shared with member federations until 14 July 2017, nine days after the Presidents’ Conference in Tartu.

This gives the feeling that the IOF leadership decided to avoid any open discussion about budget modification with the member federations who should approved the IOF budget.

More details in the post.
Nov 12, 2017 6:48 AM # 
Back in action after a blissful break to continue the gruesome task of documenting the slow motion crash of the IOF.

Published an update on the unbelievable underperformance of the IOF Council based on fresh data after the Council meeting in October.
- over €500,000 is the total 10 year gap to approved budget after missing the budget every year since 2009, including the expectations for 2017 and 2018;
- over €300,000 is the total expected shortfall of the 2016-18 performance promised to the General Assembly in August 2016.

One may suspect that questions around ethics of the process may be asked when plans and reality diverge to this extent for no good reason. Will any of the member federations have the guts to raise those questions?
Nov 26, 2017 10:21 AM # 
Before going offshore (and thus offline) again for a couple of weeks, I wanted to share with you an interesting story that illustrates well both the Agency Problem in the governance of the IOF, the general lack of controls, and how budget overruns happened.

Brian, the newly elected President at the time, decided (apparently single handedly) that the IOF should become an exhibitor on the SportAccord convention in 2013. Interesting that this has become important only after Brian was elected as President. For reasons unknown, it became suddenly so important, that he did not hesitate to step over the budget approved 6 months before, apparently not seeking even Council approval.

It is an unfortunate coincidence that Brian was involved in the business of sports consultancy at the time, a business where one of the key success factors is the ability to generate conversations with various participants of the sport management society. Being an exhibitor, as opposed to a simple delegate, greatly increases these opportunities.

Unfortunately, this looks like a classic case of conflict of interest. The facts - as detailed in the post - can be interpreted in a way that the IOF has incurred extra expenses over the approved 2013 budget, based on the decision of the President, that may have benefited the business of the President
Nov 27, 2017 1:19 AM # 
Without passing judgement on the above case, I'm not at all surprised. Around here, the general awareness of "conflict of interest" is abysmally low. I've run an orienteering business for 25 years (equipment, mapping, services to the national body) and bend over backwards to avoid COI, mostly about paid vs volunteer roles. Most people look blankly at my measures. I see others seeming to blur their paid and volunteer roles.
Nov 27, 2017 1:36 AM # 
As a general comment on the subject (and not related to the above specific case, which I can't judge), given that orienteering is such a mix of volunteer and paid work, it may be a good idea for federations and clubs to adopt conflict of interest standards, as a means of agreeing expectations.
Nov 27, 2017 1:21 PM # 
Brian's expertise in sports management was a big factor in becoming IOF president, one should not discount the possibility he acted in the best interest of the sport. To me, "Conflict of interest" is secondary to whether "exhibiting on the SportAccord convention in 2013" was good for orienteering. Rather than going ad hominem against now-retired volunteers, you should look at institutional failings and how to avoid them in future.
Because I'm not getting the impression that you think getting rid of Brian Porteous was the solution to IOFs problems.
Nov 27, 2017 3:42 PM # 
Conflict of Interest standards are needed precisely because it is (or becomes) impossible to judge if a personal interest is primary or secondary to the organization's good. Declaring CoI is to avoid that question from rising in the first place, regardless of the assumed answer.
Nov 27, 2017 11:38 PM # 
In my opinion this is not classic COI if you can not prove that he made a business for himself just because of the fact he attended the SportAccord 2013. I support this approach that president has a small budget so he can decide how to spent it withouth the Council approval. In this way in real life the key person has a chance to make decision on time and for what he thinks is good for the sport. The president need to have some flexibility and if next year's SportAccord conventions were approved by the Council the idea to be there was accepted. He saw opportunity and he acted as a leader and secure a spot for Orienteering. I remembered that he also finalized a few TV contracts for WOC at the SportAccord convetions.

The real question about IOF finance is what the President/CEO/Council need to cut or modify to stay in black if they can't generate more revenues.
Dec 15, 2017 12:45 AM # 
May I suggest to review the existing data points on this subject?

According to the Council minutes Brian did not seek Council approval to overspend the 2013 (and subsequently the 2014) budget. The minutes clearly state that he simply informed the Council. There was not a hint off discussion or approval.

Brian, apparently in a singlehanded decision, overstepped the budget that was approved by the General Assembly only a few months before. The budget proposal must have been approved also by Brian, as he was a Vice President when it was proposed. Yet, it did not include expenses for an enhanced presence on the SportAccord convention. It has become urgent priority only after the election of Brian.

The fact that the cost of enhanced presence on the SportAccord convention was immediately cut after Brian left, suggests that the rest of the leadership saw limited value in it for the IOF.

Of course, these points can be connected in different ways, but some emerging pictures have an uncomfortable appearance, unfortunately.
Dec 21, 2017 1:07 PM # 
Olympic Ambitions 2024 - Talk vs Action

In their words the IOF leadership is absolutely devoted to the Olympic dream. Leho declared to work towards the inclusion of orienteering in the Olympic games. Mikko requested the ones who do not believe in the Olympic vision to leave the joint meeting of IOF volunteers.

Yet, when it comes to implementation of the Olympic vision, we can observe something that feels like a refreshingly quiet passivity that may signify a more rational approach by the IOF leadership.

Obviously, there is not much hope to get on the Paris programme, but it is much more that it was in Tokyo or will be in Los Angeles. Yet, it looks that only the French Federation is active to announce orienteering as a candidate sport. The IOF was not even represented on the meeting with the President of the Paris Organising Committee, the one to propose additional sports for 2024.

Is the Olympic ambition pushed only for internal consumption? Or IOF leadership does not want associate itself with the predictable failure of the application? Or could it be that there is so little money left that the IOF leadership quietly ignores long term activities?
Dec 25, 2017 9:52 AM # 
I have been writing about Olympic inclusion for a while - partially because chasing this objective caused - in my view - a lot of damage to another sport close to my heart - DanceSport. I have done quite a bit of research on the realities of becoming an Olympic programme sport and to be honest, I see the chances of Orienteering becoming a programme sport similarly slim to DanceSport - although for partially different reasons.

Note that the realities have very little to do with how much we love our sport and how much value we see in pursuing it to the best of our abilities. It is more to do with stepping in the shoes of the IOC and looking at it from the perspective of what the IOC wants to do with the Olympic programme and the competition there is between sports to be on the programme.

It is very much like weighing up our chances of winning an O event without looking at who has also entered the same event and what their history is, and what they are doing to win the same event. One can be very enthusiastic about running the race - but eventually, this is not what will determine the finishing order.

So let's just look at the field and the target.

First, the capacity of the Olympic games is at its limits - in fact the IOC wants to aim for smaller Olympics. Which straight away means that becoming an Olympic programme sport can really only come at an expense of existing programme sports - with a few notes on the side (the 3 "floating" one-off events, but I'll come to that in a bit). Keep in mind that these are not only all well established sports, but there are also a number of sports which have disciplines they want to add to the programme - in other words, the existing sports are not only trying to defend their position, but they are also fighting for additional inclusion/expansion of their presence within the programme. There are also sports which were in the past programme sports but were removed from the programme - they all want to get back and have more credibility than any "new" sports.

Let's then look at the "new" sports, and what is the criteria for selecting them to become a programme event (whether as part of the new core or one of the 3 new "floating" events that come in for a single Olympics). Let's just look at each of the main criteria and see how well does Orienteering fare against other competing sports in each category:

Criteria in which Orienteering does fairly well:
- Gender Equality
- Objectivity in result (not a judged discipline)
- Results are largely impacted by physical abilities (although mental sports are recognised, they are slightly lower down in the pecking order when it comes to programme sports)
- Ensuring the participation of the best athletes (there are some sports with fractured federations or several top athletes unlikely to attend the Olympic Games for various reasons e.g. money etc) - I would think it is very likely that the top Orienteers would be coming to compete

The problem with the above is that there are many sports disciplines that can make the same claims, so it is not sufficient to make Orienteering stand out.

Criteria that is arguable but other sports are likely to do better in:

- Cost of venue. Whilst Orienteering does not need its own stadium built which would be an enormous cost and could be abandoned after the Games, something the IOC wants to go away from, it has its own unique requirements. Its own venues would need to be found (good Orienteering terrain), quarantine requirements etc. and what it can not do is share a venue with another sport throughout the Olympic programme so that logistical aspects do not arise solely from a singles sport (this does not only include the cost aspect but also setting up of TV stands, sharing the production crew, transportation etc. etc. Whilst this can be argued either way, the reality is that there are a lot of sports competing to get in to the programme that can happily share venues over the period of the Games (one takes on week, the other takes the other week etc) and/or are a lot easier to produce appropriate coverage from than Orienteering.

- Global appeal: Whilst IOF does have federations worldwide, we can all agree that the bulk of quality competitiors do come from a select group of countries, and is heavily Europe-centric. Similar problems actually plague quite a few competing sports too, however. Local/regional appeal can be overcome for being selected for a specific OG (one of the 3 one-time included events) rather than becoming a core event, however this is no guarantee - for example, the Tokyo games considered and rejected locally popular sports such as Sumo and Wushu. (The ones added were more globally appealing like Karate, Baseball, Skateboarding, sports climbing...) Hence - Orienteering can claim global representation, but it is not a stand out sport in terms of that, what is more worrying is that whilst it may have some good competitors from outside Europe, the actual public interest is even less globally distributed - most people don't even know what Orienteering is, even in Europe. This is certainly not the case in a lot of alternative sports that try to make it to the Olympic programme (quite well demonstrated by the L’Équipe article example in the IOF reflections blog article).

- Contributing toward limiting the number of athletes and officials in the Games: Due to Orienteering athletes and trainers not overlapping with any other sports or events, adding the sport/discipline to the programme would mean adding all these individual to the list of people needed to be cared for. This, however, is likely to be very similar for quite a lot of other sports as well and so not really a negative in itself. However, due to the unique requirements such as mapping, timing equipment etc., Orienteering would add to the officials its own set of supporting cast as well. The only advantage really is that Orienteering (apart from the relays that are actually probably amongst the more viewer-friendly disciplines) is not a team sport so no need to cater for many people teams, which would be a requirement for some of the alternative sports.

- Promotion of clean athletes/anti-doping: Orienteering is not one where we generally recognise doping as a big issue - however as it is very much based on physical athletic capability, there is an argument that doping can be effectively used and so the controls around it are essential. The IOC does use anti-doping controls (as is indeed a requirement for all sports on the journey to become an Olympic programme sport), but it is really not a differentiator here as all sports do this. I would argue that in this aspect Orienteering is a middle-ground participant and its actions would not disqualify it from becoming a programme event, but it also is not one that would stand out with a low risk profile for the IOC.

Criteria where Orienteering is at a distinct disadvantage against most other programme hopeful sports:

- Public appeal: Let's face it, Orienteering is quite difficult to follow for the average person. Head-to-head racing in relays is about as watchable as it gets, but even then it is not a straight forward proposition for the uninitiated. Whilst there was a lot of progress made in recent years with real-time split timings/GPS tracking, running cameras, drones etc., in comparison to most other sports that are trying to become programme sports, it is at a distinct disadvantage. This is just reflected in the numbers that measure this appeal in the form of existing TV audiences, social media representation etc.

- IOC's appeal for the millenials / youth appeal of the sport: Again, not much to say here. Compared to the proposition of e-sports, or even for the high-flying excitement of BMX, skateboarding, sport climbing, etc., Orienteering just does not have the established base or youth appeal. There are many alternative running event types that appeal for youngsters that we could be exploiting in theory to build this base/image up (think spartan or obstacle races, tough mudders etc), but this is definitely not currently a forte.
Dec 25, 2017 1:17 PM # 
Just to add slightly to what Psuba wrote above, when the IOF first started a puch toward Olympics inclusion, I suggested that they were taking completely the wrong tack in terms of introducing multiple disciplines, because it made the package too big to stand a chance. Instead, I thought that a better idea would be to present a single event, a mass-start, mixed gender relay, probably with the final leg being a women's leg. Orienteering would take place on a single day, and the whole thing would take only a couple of hours. That would be a foot in the door, and if it turned out to have appeal, maybe individual events could happen later. Insisting from the start on Sprint, Middle, Long with interval starts will never go anywhere. (Not that it matters to me.) With GPS tracking, I think a relay could be fairly watchable for the public. The Men's Middle and Women's Relay from the WOC in France were pretty cool. And it's pretty easy to demo to people using RouteGadget. Then you add in some drone footage of the start, and a few strategic cameras in the woods...
Dec 25, 2017 2:20 PM # 
What can we learn from x-country? It is the closest sport to orienteering and has its own problems. Is there any news what IAAF has done or is doing?

"Maybe running over a bit of snow and ice would be good, we might then even see x-country included in the winter Olympics."
Dec 25, 2017 2:47 PM # 
Actually, that is a good point. Becoming a programme sport in the Winter Games (i.e. Ski Orienteering) is possibly more realistic because of the expansion of the programme and the less fierce competitions amongst sports. Paralympics (Trail-O) is possibly also there, although I suspect the non-physical aspect of Trail-O (para discipline) does not make it so appealing for the IOF.

I suspect though that getting Ski-O to the Winter Games programme is not the headline target most people have in mind when they talk about Orienteering becoming a programme sport in the Olympics.
Dec 25, 2017 9:06 PM # 
The idea is not new. 25 years ago IOF made a big push to get ski-O into winter olympics and the logic then was the same. Summer games not accepting new sports without first removing existing ones. Winter games eager to take on more. Still never happened.
Dec 25, 2017 11:13 PM # 
Winter games are eager to take on new sports under two conditions:
1) they have strong youth appeal,
2) they belong to one of the seven olympic winter sports federations

SkiO does not qualify under either conditions. I plan to write up the long series of failed application attempts in a post.

When there is a candidate winter sport that qualifies under 1), but not under 2), like snowboarding, the IOC makes sure that 2) gets ticked off. Google the story of snowboarding being recognised by the IOC before Nagano 1998 as a discipline of FIS (ski federation), despite having its own established snowboarding federation.
Dec 31, 2017 10:31 AM # 
In this modest proposal I would like to lay out the key arguments for promoting Virtual-O as the headline competitive format for orienteering as an Olympic sport.

This would be the pinnacle of the IOF's drive to take orienteering out of the forest to the people, to make orienteering more attractive to a larger audience, especially TV audience. Since most of the TV viewers are on the couch in the living room, orienteering must be brought to the couch!

Virtual-O meets not only the expectations of the organisers of Paris 2024, but it is also fully aligned with the strategic directions of the IOF. In fact, it is practically the synthesis of the strategic directions: visible and attractive, it has youth appeal, it is global by definition, and well positioned for the Olympics.

We must have all the confidence that the uncompromising drive of the IOF leadership towards the Olympics will ensure that Virtual-O is introduced, and all the required compromises are met to make orienteering an absolutely positively definitely truly virtual sport.
Dec 31, 2017 10:59 AM # 
I like sarcarsm. Just feel it does not fit the theme of the blog, which so far have included serious posts only - there is a danger that the rest of the posts can now be waved off as being written out of bitterness which can be inferred from this one sarcastic post and taint the whole of the blog now.
Jan 1, 2018 10:35 AM # 
I took the post as serious. What with eGames looking a stronger contender than orienteering, it makes sense.
Jan 3, 2018 9:32 AM # 
I am not bitter, just sad to to see the way orienteering is being led. I believe that a bit of satire is useful to illustrate absurdity of the situation. In our case to show that Virtual-O fits much better the strategic directions of the IOF than other forms of orienteering ;-)
Jan 3, 2018 9:35 AM # 
My previous post apparently touched on a more serious theme than intended. Here is a follow up post on esports, orienteering and the Olympics over and above my original plans.

I received a few comments that one should not be serious about the prospects of esports, so I looked a bit deeper. I was stunned: both the International Olympic Committee and FIFA made major steps embracing esports. It seems that the direction the Olympic movement is pretty much 180 degrees to the one that would favour our beloved traditional Orienteering, whether it is done on foot, on bike or on skis.

We have a great sport with devoted participants, but it is a niche sport. Classical orienteering simply does not fit into the Olympic mass market framework for the foreseeable future. It makes little point to waste resources on this direction with the current approach; just trying to push a round peg into a square hole.
Jan 3, 2018 10:08 PM # 
It's hard to criticize stalas for sarcasm when he's the one who started the thread.
Jan 4, 2018 1:53 AM # 
Closer to analogy than sarcasm.
Jan 4, 2018 3:58 AM # 
Orienteering wouldn't be the only niche sport if it was included at the Olympics - just look at modern pentathlon!
Jan 4, 2018 5:53 AM # 
Wasn't that in danger of being booted?
Jan 4, 2018 7:07 AM # 
Yes but it somehow managed to stay on board. I'm sure Australia will be pushing to retain it given our recent success although we won't fund any potential athletes to compete (swimming money has to come from somewhere).
Jan 4, 2018 10:05 AM # 
I reckon its participation numbers would be lower than orienteering. That's saying something.
Jan 4, 2018 12:04 PM # 
Hard work and they are still dreaming...
Jan 4, 2018 2:51 PM # 
@tRicky Modern pentathlon was included in 1912 and it has been on the program for over 100 years. Allegedly it was Coubertin himself who invented it. So it has a fair bit of history.

Far more difficult to boot a long standing member of the Olympic family, even if they do not contribute much, than allowing in another hungry mouth to the table with little hope of contribution. The direct rivals of orienteering are baseball, climbing, karate, squash and some more are all much more mainstream than orienteering.
Jan 4, 2018 10:35 PM # 
If the Olympics (summer or winter) are ever held in a Nordic country, do you think orienteering would still have no chance of being included?
Jan 4, 2018 11:09 PM # 
Jan 5, 2018 12:46 AM # 
The less well known Olympic sports seem to be held at separate venues, with less television. I'm not sure why necessarily the focus on Olympics. If people want visibility, then maybe a better bet is getting orienteering on television, or better yet streaming, in more countries. Virtual O competitions as part of that might be quite engaging. Let the public try their hand, in the comfort of their sofa.
Jan 5, 2018 1:08 AM # 
Allegedly it was Coubertin himself who invented it.

Yeah I read that it was meant to simulate a soldier racing back from the front lines in a cavalry battle having to swim, find a horse to ride, fence, run and shoot his or her way back - highly relevant in today's world! Perhaps the new revised modern pentathlon could involve piloting a drone, hiding from an enemy patrol, sending a radio message, marching in a parade and standing to attention.
Jan 5, 2018 1:31 AM # 
I think we'll see Musical composition re-introduced to the Olympics before orienteering.
Jan 5, 2018 7:47 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Instead of officially being in the Olympic Games, what if we get close?

Say, have SprintWOC 2028 in Los Angeles, for example.
Jan 7, 2018 11:53 AM # 
I am just wondering what would "getting close" to the Olympics achieve?
Youth appeal in LA? TV audience in the US?

SkiO was fairly close to the Winter Olympics in Nagano 1998.
No impact whatsoever, as far as I know.
Jan 7, 2018 11:14 PM # 
Maybe be as far from the Olympics and other events as possible, for better visibility. Pick a time and date with absolutely nothing else happening, find some TV, cable or streaming outlet willing to carry orienteering, do a really amazing job of video coverage, accessible to non-orienteers (but who might be interested in navigational sport). Maybe let people at home join in on Virtual O just after the event (same map).

During the Olympics, TV is making choices about what *not* to cover, given the vast amount of content. During a lull in sporting events, some outlet might be interested in showing some uncommon sport that doesn't cost them anything to produce or purchase. Maybe. Seems more plausible. Or just advertise the existing live coverage of major events using social media and such, hoping to attract people with interest in maps, trail running, etc.
Jan 8, 2018 1:11 AM # 
In Australia during 'lulls' in events we get to see endless replays of Aussies winning medals (which happens less and less these days so we get to see the same thing over and over).
Jan 8, 2018 1:50 AM # 
Not a lull in the Olympics, a lull in the year. For example, back in the 1970s, there was not much going on in US sports in the summer except baseball, so there was a goofy competition on TV on Sundays called Superstars. It's the "slow news day" concept. Not so easy these days when the start of football almost overlaps on the end of basketball and hockey.
Jan 8, 2018 8:41 AM # 
There's never a lull in sports in Australia. Even during the off season for Aussie Rules football (Oct-Feb), there's never a day goes by when we aren't bombarded with stories about footballers. The commercial networks make sure of it. Alternatively that's when the cricket is on.
Jan 8, 2018 9:45 AM # 
Hasn't this bird flown already?? The Winter Olympics were in Norway in 1994 at Lillehammer and I seem to recall there was an attempt to get ski-orienteering on the program?? The Ski-O Worlds were held at Lillehammer in 1996, which seems a bit late. If we can't get on the program in Scandinavia there is no hope.
Jan 8, 2018 10:20 AM # 
The birds all flew south for the winter.
Jan 8, 2018 10:32 AM # 
O-ing: I think inclusion rules have changed since 1994 and local organisers have more influence over what is included and an ability to add a sport for just single Games.

A question for everybody: If Olympics were not a goal, but you still wanted to achieve more visibility and popularity for orienteering, what would you do differently compared to what is being done now? This reminds me how in my native Ukraine eventually joining the EU is a goal proclaimed by the government. Most people understand that this is only possible in very distant future at best and by that time the EU may not even exist or will be very different and not worth joining. However, it is also recognised that this goal pushes the country in the right direction and helps promote reforms that are necessary anyway. Isn't it the same with orienteering?
Jan 8, 2018 11:20 AM # 
A very good article by IOF.
Orienteering World - No.2/1992
Orienteering and the Olympics by Heinz Tschudin
Jan 9, 2018 3:44 AM # 
@Pink_Socks have SprintWOC 2028 in Los Angeles

In 1984, concurrent with but apart from the Olympics, San Diego Orienteers and Bay Area OC hosted the "California 5 Days". It drew participants from throughout the US and abroad, but otherwise seemed to go unnoticed. Still, it's worth a try, O' is a bigger sport now and a WOC would be an event with much greater visibility (if only to orienteers).
Jan 11, 2018 7:59 PM # 
Is this article accessible anywhere? The IOF web carries archives only rom 2005.
Jan 11, 2018 8:01 PM # 
What is your assessment of the cost/benefit ratio of any of the approaches mentioned?
Jan 11, 2018 8:12 PM # 
The big question is whether pushing orienteering towards the Olympics is the right direction or not. How much compromise can elite orienteering tolerate before hopelessly split from mainstream orienteering - while still not becoming attractive to mass media?

Forcing changes to core values can cause irreparable damage. The first fundamental value is "Orienteering is at one with nature."

Can you match that with the concept of Urban WOC?
Jan 11, 2018 9:24 PM # 
@stalas...I don't have any precise numbers. My suspicion is that getting in the Olympics will take a lot of time and money, like huge, based on what people have said who've talked to Olympics committees and so forth. Producing a television broadcast ourselves would probably cost a bit (though the live streaming has probably been good prep for presenting the sport in an intelligible engaging way). The cheapest might be to find a television network or such interested in doing the filming and production themselves (though not all are good at capturing something like orienteering... The piece on the Swiss woman, can't recall the details, was probably the best I've seen, another piece decades earlier by a local station was awful, there's a whole spectrum). I'm unclear on whether organizing an event near a major televised event (like the Olympics) has any benefit or not.
Jan 11, 2018 11:15 PM # 
One of the best world of sport archive which I know. I think it is free for members and for others pay per scan. Yes, it is a shame that IOF don't have old mag copies online.

National Sport Information Centre/Clearinghouse for Sport
Sport Insights
Participation and Sustainable Sports
Australian Sports Commission
Jan 11, 2018 11:29 PM # 
Thanks for the tip - obviously given my role with Orienteering Australia I knew about the existence of the Clearinghouse for Sport, but didn't know about their archives. Suspect I might spend a bit of this weekend exploring :-).
Jan 12, 2018 7:15 AM # 
Being able to instruct Blair on an Australian archive hes is unaware of is... rare.
Jan 12, 2018 9:21 AM # 
@stalas: The article is reprinted in this Orienteering Canada Newsletter!
Jan 12, 2018 10:44 AM # 
@jwolff Yes, ten pages after the article about dealing with the universal problem of the lack of junior orienteers. I'm thinking OCanada had its priorities right even then...
Jan 12, 2018 11:40 AM # 
@jwolff Ta!
Some of the missing pieces for a future post on the history of the Sisyphean effort to get Orienteering included in the Olympic Games :-)
Jan 12, 2018 1:32 PM # 
New post:

On 7 December the President of the IOF has published his thoughts on matters critical to quality of major events. These were refreshing thoughts that emphasised core qualities of orienteering events like quality of maps, course setting, and punching / time keeping.

Yet, when we try to match the words of the President with the obligations put on organisers of major events by the IOF, we see a mammoth gap between the two. There are gaps between his words and the evaluation criteria of applicants, the formal obligations put on organisers, and the financial obligations required by the IOF.

That is really pity. In case of organisations, especially of organisations built on the effort of volunteers, matching words and actions is the single most critical feature of leadership quality.
Jan 12, 2018 4:14 PM # 
I think the difference is actually quite sensible.
The core qualities are things which any serious host knows about and can provide. TV, arena, sponsorship will all be new, and the host needs to think carefully about whether they can deliver. It is important that the IOF highlight this.
In my own experience, it was clear to anyone hoping to plan the GB WOC that TV was crucial, and prospective planners had to buy into that. So in 2013, long before the arena or even full extent of the area was known, I was out in the forest with the IOF TV guy (Karel) and our local TV liaison figuring out which parts of the area would look good on TV, and the best camera locations for summer conditions. These provided fixed points around which the original courses were planned.

Just as with elite orienteering, its not the absolute technical level that causes mistakes, its the difference between actual and perceived difficulty.
Jan 12, 2018 7:41 PM # 
There are many reasons to develop urban orienteering besides the Olympics. In many parts of the world there are few or no suitable terrains for forest orienteering. In much of England forests are technically boring, with lots of trails and not much contour detail, and unpleasant to run through, with brambles, nettles, and bracken. But there are awesome medieval towns with complex street networks, many narrow alleys, dead ends, fences and hedges. So it is no surprise that many people in the UK actually prefer urban orienteering and it is as "mainstream" as the traditional forest version. For many, all that matters is that orienteering exercises both mind and body, and whether that happens in a forest or in a town is of secondary importance.

As for the separate urban WOC, while there are arguments for and against it, it is hard to argue with the fact that there are not many places in the world where both forest and urban terrains are top-class. So you can either compromise on the quality of one or the other, or choose the best for each type separately.
Jan 14, 2018 6:57 AM # 
riley mcfarlane :
It seems like every organisation has a word to actions imbalance. Even if I were to kickstart a petition for the IOF's main goal to be getting into the Olympic/Paralympic Games, there is NO MONEY in the sport. None of the big Sports companies would want to support Orienteering seeing as most of us are not perceived as 'mainstream' or in a teenager's POV, 'Hype'. Let's be honest, most trail running/orienteering shoes are not that pretty to the normal person's eye. If we can develop or harness someone who is as legendary (Or even better) Than Thierry (Who also is very mainstream or has a lot of 'hype'), they would have to be creating the 'Micheal Jordan effect' on Orienteering, seeing in Australia (Especially West Australia), No one knows Orienteering. If they know OF orienteering, they're the type of person to call it 'OrIeNTATioN' or 'The gay sport where you go treasure hunting'. IKR. What stupidity has entered their hype beast, hormone fuelled head! Which is why we need a 'mainstream' person who is very marketable, like Mike.

What in the hell is the Michael Jordan effect?
He single-handedly made basketball popular with his God-given athleticism and his 'it' factor.
How would a Basketball player help Orienteering spread worldwide?
If someone came along with phenomenal talent & competitive drive who'd scare all other professional stars but be the bandwagon's fan favourite every time, we would encourage big brands to want to sign her a sponsorship!

Or we could just get schools interested in orienteering all over the world.
Jan 14, 2018 9:32 AM # 
There is no magic formula. Karate, squash, cricket,.... all have 100× times or more athletes and fans who support them. It is niche sport and the people who like orinteering are more associated to mountainrunning, XC cross country, skyrunning, etc. and not pure running as athlethics beside elite orienteering. That is way I think IOF made a crucial mistake to cancel world orineteering marathon championships which were organized in the past and cancel application from several member countries to establish a new discipline at previous GAs. In the meantime we saw a mainstream development in this field with 100 miles races, UTMB, and similar races where big brands put their money. Killian Jornet become one of the world most famous athlete. These brands should be our target and not NIKE or similar ones. Just check out how skyrunning federation which is even more niche international sport federation than IOF differentiate from the IAAF or UIAA and attrack many sport brands.
Jan 14, 2018 9:44 PM # 
The sort of orienteering I imagine might have the greatest chance of getting into the Olympics- a purpose-built glass-walled maze in a stadium. Drone cameras overhead. Competing pair starts and tackling allowed. Physical traps along incorrect routes. Yes, I used to be a very active adventure climber who didn't understand speed gym climbing.
Jan 15, 2018 1:28 AM # 
... or as a judged sport, eg synchronised orienteering.

And we should keep an eye on how skyrunning adapts to putting its sport in a stadium.
Jan 15, 2018 1:32 AM # 
Sounds like you should just send the IOC a copy of Maze Runner and tell them it's orienteering.
Jan 15, 2018 1:57 PM # 
New post on IOF Finances:

Next weekend on the IOF Council-Commissions joint meeting there will be a presentation on IOF Finances. This is most interesting.

Last July the IOF leadership did not want to talk about finances on the Presidents' Conference to member federations who have a direct interest. They rather sent a letter about financial issues a week later. Now they decided to talk to commission members who volunteer in technical positions, but do not represent member federations.

In financially distressed companies management typically starts to talk about finances to technical people when they see the possibility of a financial meltdown right around the corner. We have to follow these developments closely.
Jan 18, 2018 10:07 PM # 
New post on the ethics of the IOF:

Ethics is a fascinating question, especially in amateur sport federations based on volunteer work, where the common values and beliefs are the most important glue holding together the organisation.

I share some of the stories from the past couple of years of the IOF that might raise questions around ethical approaches. These include stories around the career of the secretary, respect of the rules, and open and honest discussions, amongst others.

This is a longer than usual post, but keeping these stories in one bouquet may help readers to understand that they appear to be more than random individual cases.

One may recognise patterns, and may even be forgiven to come to the feeling that not written rules, but the ethics of a good old boy network, and the ethics of silence govern conduct in sensitive matters within the IOF.
Jan 25, 2018 10:13 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I'm not convinced that orienteering needs to be in the Olympics, I'm just spitballing ideas.

I think SprintWOC at an Olympic site immediately before or after the games has some potential (perhaps not a lot, but some). The local community is engaged, there are fans around, there's international media, and it's the peak awareness period of sports that aren't basketball, football, soccer, baseball, or hockey.

Another idea would be to have the IOF give SprintWOC entries to any Olympian, just for kicks.

I've mentioned this before, but in the US, the first baby step would be to get into the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail every June. I know our exec director talked to some people about it several years ago, but they prohibited off-trail access, and he didn't pursue other options that I think could work (eg: Sprint in the ski village).
Feb 21, 2018 9:02 PM # 

A new post about IOF elections. The title comes from a classic American protest song of the 1960s by Tom Paxton.

"I learned our government must be strong
It's always right and never wrong
Our leaders are the finest men
And we elect them again and again"

Over the total 28 IOF elections since 1961 the post of the President was contested only once. The number of candidates for Council positions since 2000 (9 elections) was only 13% higher than the seats available.

It seems that Council members get elected for the lack of choice. A combination of cost, time commitment, and apparently limited ability to make real impact severely limits the number of potential candidates. As a result, IOF leadership appears to be in an unshakeable position, that in return may explain the conduct of the Council on some occasions.
Mar 11, 2018 8:20 AM # 
Just a quick detour into the realm of social psychology as a follow up article to my previous post on IOF elections.

Why some members of the Council feel themselves highly empowered in discussions with practitioners as "member of a body elected by the General Assembly" - despite the fact that simply being selected for nomination by their national federations almost guarantees an "elected" seat in the Council?

How can educated people who were well aware of the "election process" (or lack of it) behave as if they would have won the US Presidential elections?

A TEDx presentation by a psychology professor from Berkeley may provide a possible explanation.
Mar 11, 2018 7:00 PM # 
How about to put your energy into a simple proposals that would have a chance to be discussed here on AP.
Mar 11, 2018 7:35 PM # 
it looks like target is discussions at AP and other places, instead of IOF
wrong target. resentful man's tales
Mar 11, 2018 8:01 PM # 
I cannot provide a simple proposal for the simple reason that there are no simple solutions. ;-)

I am trying to raise awareness before the IOF goes down the path of many disgraced international sports organisations. Very few people in orienteering are aware of the issues around IOF governance, practices, finances and attitudes. Without understanding that there are serious problems, it is not possible to have meaningful discussions.

Of course, some may believe that ignorance is strength. ;-)
Mar 11, 2018 10:06 PM # 
I got a feeling that you see every decision as a wrong decision and that nobody from the current leadership is able to fix or change the course. I'm well aware that you see plenty of possible improvements but I also believe that people working for IOF are doing the best they can and in the best interest of whole orienteering community even if they did many bad decisions. Let's say 7/8 out of 10 decisions is still good management. Where is current leadership on this ladder? Simple.
Mar 12, 2018 12:08 AM # 
No, I never said that every IOF decision was a wrong decision. Whether 7/8 rights out of 10 decisions is good management or not is another question. I am pretty sure that many disgraced sport managers, business executives and political figures made 7/8 good decisions out of 10, and that they were convinced that they worked for the best interest of their sport, business, or nation.

I have no reason to doubt that when the Vice President of the IOF asked people who do not believe in the Olympic Dream to leave the room before a discussion on IOF strategy started, he did so believing that it was in the best interest of the sport. I have no reason to doubt that when the Council members stayed silent instead of discussing situations with potential for serious ethical implications, they did so believing that was in the best interest of the sport.
You may read more on this in this post:

I have no reason to doubt that when the IOF budget is missed 10 years in a row and majority of reserves are gone, it was also done with the belief that the extra spend was in the best interest of the sport. Pity that there is very little to show for it.

These questions are not discussed within the IOF structures for various reasons, and few in the orienteering family are aware of these issues. I believe that the first step to solve these questions is to raise awareness.
Mar 12, 2018 2:26 AM # 
"to raise awareness" and then what....
This is politics and if you think you could do it better then you need to get a support and put your NAME into election process. If your programme, vision, trust, leadership, team etc is what members are willing to buy then things can go in different way. It is that simple.
Mar 12, 2018 10:19 AM # 
Oh, do you want to suggest that only people who stand for election supposed to write about the internal workings of international sports organisations like the IOF?

(or the IOC, FIFA, FIDE, UCI, AIBA, IAAF, and FIVB - just to name a few)
Mar 12, 2018 2:42 PM # 
Of course not but media normally publish news because there is bussines interes or large public interest. I like the fact that you are kind of IOF watchdog. I just think that if you want to start a change within the IOF your approach will not bring you anywhere closer to the solutions you want to see. Maybe they will try to follow their rules better than in the past. I would be glad to read that your personal interest have a meaning. Did you sent any of your findings to the IOF and they reply to you?
Mar 12, 2018 5:10 PM # 
No need to send anything to the IOF. I was told they read my blog :-)
There is no public reaction. They have a habit to avoid potentially inconvenient discussions.

Yes, I tried to discuss many things during my 6 years in the MTBO Commission, especially during the 4 years as the chairman of the commission. I was either ignored, or told that they are the ones elected so they do what they want, no point to discuss.

On the nature of Council elections and the attitudes observed see my last two posts:

I know it is not personal. The IOF leadership has similar attitudes to others too. They sent a letter to member federations about financial issues - but only a week after the Presidents' Conference to avoid inconvenient discussions. The IOF VP openly asked activists who did not believe in the Olympic Dream to leave the room before they started to discuss IOF strategy. I have a feeling that they may have an active ostrich policy. ;-)
Mar 14, 2018 3:24 PM # 
They have a habit to avoid potentially inconvenient discussions.
Yes, we're still waiting for anyone from the WOC2015 team to get invited to a
IOF High Level Event Seminar. In the absence of any IOF feedback, we'll go on assuming our efforts were perfect, like it said on worldofo.
Mar 19, 2018 9:27 AM # 
I have to admit that the apparent strategy to avoid open discussions was something I could not really understand for many years. We are all volunteers, save for a couple of paid people in the IOF Office. We all try our best, but unavoidably make mistakes or miss elements of the big picture.

Open discussions should be seen as a way of ensuring the development of our sport, and not something threatening - unless some see it as incompatible with their privileged position. I think that the Berkeley experiment I wrote about in my last post may explain the reasons behind some observed behaviour.
Mar 20, 2018 3:13 PM # 
Regarding transparency and being open to and about inconvenient topics, I would also like to see more information from IOF on "forbidden things done at high(est) level events". Be it proven doping (two cases in ski-o in recent years, AFAIK), use of forbidden routes in ski-o (Finland) and MTBO (Austria, proven by GPS), or breaking embargo areas (MTBO in Lithuania, foot-o in Latvia). I feel "the bad" and "the ugly" need to be named too, not just "the good". OTOH, maybe sweeping things under the carpet is just practising for how it would be when Olympic dreams come true...
Mar 20, 2018 8:59 PM # 
jSh> I'm curious, can I ask to be more specific regarding "breaking embargo areas" facts? I don't know nothing about this
Mar 21, 2018 1:41 AM # 
The Latvian foot-o one is documented in section 32.3 of the January Council minutes (so the information is publicly available, if not heavily publicised). Interesting case - it involved someone who had gone on a zipline over the embargoed area without actually setting foot in it.

Anti-doping cases have fairly strict confidentiality rules (largely imposed by WADA and national anti-doping organisations) so you're never likely to hear much other than the final result.
Mar 21, 2018 2:25 AM # 
Zipline -- yeah, I'm sure that created an unfair advantage. On the other hand, the culprits most likely were doing it on purpose to see what would happen. I wonder what the rules clarification will look like. Can I fly my hang glider over an embargoed area? What if it's at an altitude of 1000+ meters?
Mar 21, 2018 5:12 AM # 
How about some experiments to see how much local knowledge influences results. I suspect it only really would make a difference in sprint events. But with google street map embargoes are somewhat meaningless in urban areas anyway.
Mar 21, 2018 1:55 PM # 
How about: can you park outside the embargo area and fly your drone over it?
Mar 21, 2018 5:57 PM # 
@nerimka, the MTBO case was also really rather funny and unlikely at the same time. Vilnius, town-centre, embargoed area for WMTBOC sprint. The event organisers were notified by participating federation "A", who had been preparing for the competition by looking at Google street-view, that Google linked to some Picasa user-provided pictures, where athletes from federation "B" were visible with bikes at one of the landmark tourist attractions. The elite athletes from "B" were discouraged from submitting a name-entry for the sprint competition, which they accepted.

Looking at things the way they are nowadays, with the Hubmanns and the Danes drawing nearly better maps of the WOC sprint competition area from public sources and planning memo-courses up to par with the later WOC-courses, plus bike-training hardware offering "race against the champ" modes with VR glasses and even uphill/downhill simulation on the treadmill, one has to wonder what advantage real-world touristic sightseeing really had/has...

But rules are rules, of course, so that's just how it is, for now.
Until Sandors suggestion happens - introducing orienteering to the Olympics through e-sports... :-(
Mar 21, 2018 7:15 PM # 
Given that a recent WOC shared a map made from (I recall) publicly available lidar in advance if the event, and many organizers share photos of the forest, foreknowledge of the terrain may be more egalitarian... Anyone with internet access (barring some from self-walled countries) will often see a fair bit about the terrain in advance. Having orienteered in nearby terrain will still be an advantage, but perhaps less so than a few decades ago.
Mar 21, 2018 7:23 PM # 
Actually, doing a WOC course by VR goggles might be a way to interest the public in the sport, especially Sprint through an ancient city against top athletes, at least virtually. It might also be interesting to watch a helmet cam video of a world champion doing their course, next to their animated GPS track. I'm not opposed to the efforts to make the sport more watchable.
Mar 21, 2018 7:41 PM # 
I think there is a lot to still develop for those headcam videos to be watchable from someone doing our sport at the speed of the top Elite.

Try not to be dizzy in about 30 secs from this sprint headcam video from Marten Bostrom:
Mar 22, 2018 12:30 AM # 
There are ways to process headcam videos so they look less shaky. Check Ivan Sirakov's videos, for example.

I suspect Bostrom's video is left unprocessed intentionally.
Mar 22, 2018 4:02 AM # 
Or, we need follow drones.
Mar 22, 2018 3:39 PM # 
Or a fast runner who can follow a world champion.
Mar 22, 2018 4:16 PM # 
Yeah, those chasing camera videos are super fun.
Mar 23, 2018 2:26 PM # 
Bostrom's video looks like it was taken with the camera on a chest mount, rather than on his head, hence the exaggerated swinging motion, and the fact that you can see the map when he brings it up to his chest. There's still some swing from a head-strap mount when you're moving fast, but nothing like as much (unless you're Paula Radcliffe) and the latest GoPros have image stabilising software that helps a little. Still not perfect, though.
Mar 30, 2018 3:36 PM # 
Back to the question of finances for a change:

There were some good vibes coming out from the IOF about the state of finances. Positive result for 2017, cash at €157,000, and a reassuring presentation given for delegates to IOF commissions.

In this post I would like to show you why one has to take these pieces of seemingly positive information cautiously, especially when they come from an organisation with stretched financials. Some technical financial terminology was unavoidable, but I tried to explain as much as possible in simple terms.

Let’s hope that the IOF financial report for 2017 gets published in the near future, and that the detailed numbers confirm the positive messages. Until then one has to be cautious and avoid overinterpreting pieces of information that do not show the full picture.
Mar 30, 2018 6:03 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
We were told by the SEA that for WOC2019 in Østfold/Norway we had to publish autogenerated maps of all areas, based on public and semi-public LiDAR and topo data. This was similar to the requirements for WOC2016 half an hour further south in Strømstad.

The main difference was that Strømstad published maps of just the actual competition terrains while we did the same for all embargoed areas, totalling about 300 sq km.
May 7, 2018 8:44 PM # 
World Orienteering Day - a great idea that we should be happy about, but there is a strange hype of achieving new and new "World Records" attached to it.

The extension of the event for a full week has good reasons. Still calling it a Day and push communication around another record participation looks positively strange. It is a self-declared, self-reported world record that has no value outside self-congratulatory IOF press releases.

The WOD slogan “Be part of something bigger” has acquired a completely new meaning. Have you ever been part of a day that lasted for a week?

This is a minor topic amongst the issues around the IOF, but it illustrates very well the mindset of the leadership: a desperate demonstration of results where the picture looks very different when you scratch the surface; a focus on meaningless numbers to avoid an honest discussion about the real issues.
May 7, 2018 9:08 PM # 
World Orienteering Days?
May 7, 2018 11:26 PM # 
Why not WOW World O Week?
May 7, 2018 11:56 PM # 
That is the point. Why didn't they change the name, but keep chasing targets giving the misleading impression that the 2018 numbers will be comparable to that of 2017 and 2016?
May 8, 2018 6:58 AM # 
someone gets surprised when it comes to marketing basics?
May 8, 2018 1:52 PM # 
Well, there are marketing basics for reputable organisations, and there are "marketing basics" for others type of business
May 8, 2018 3:44 PM # 
If you talk about marketing: Who is the target audience? What is the marketing message? Why is it set up in a misleading way?

Is this just another attempt to project an "everything is fine" message to the orienteering public instead of taking a hard look at the serious issues?
May 8, 2018 4:41 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Forget the metrics re: WOD, wtf is this WOD registration box uncheckable?

May 8, 2018 6:58 PM # 
Yes, this looks like a very interesting "feature" indeed.
May 8, 2018 8:10 PM # 
May 15, 2018 10:08 AM # 
Mr Wonderful had very valid point above. There are serious questions about the WOD website. That post on that is being researched and written. In the meantime, a new post to complete the discussion on participation metrics:

In 2016 the IOF wanted to break the Guinness World Record of the largest multi venue orienteering event set by the Swiss Orienteering Association in 2003. It did not succeed. The Guinness World Record remained the one set by the Swiss. Yet the IOF claimed a new world record both in 2016 and 2017, albeit an "IOF World Record", a self declared, not verified one.

There could be very good reason why an event like the WOD focused more on promotion of the sport does not attempt to achieve a verified world record. The focus of WOD should be on participation and fun, not on administration. But then why claim new “world records”? Whom are we kidding?

The Swiss world record numbers underline the failing participation masked by the unbelievably large numbers from Turkey. In 2003 there were more participants in Swiss schools only than in 2016 or 2017 around the World outside Turkey. Pushing the communication of new IOF world records is even more controversial in this light.
May 16, 2018 12:01 AM # 
Following your discussion with interest Sandor. But I can't decide whether you are revealing a sinister twisting of the truth, or what we are surrounded by in daily life - putting a positive face on the facts, marketing, "spin", etc.

This takes many forms, eg the dubious claims of the cosmetic and dieting industries, firms which exist to lobby governments. Market research itself doesn't exist to serve the consumer. Election campaigning FCS!

I see it in orienteering too. My national body, driven by a government grant, adopted a series of business management fads, including setting and reporting numerical measures. Of course most of them are "met" (before being quietly shelved under the new "strategic" plan). Even my club's annual report puts a spin on the year's happenings. At this level, where so much effort is dependent on enjoyment and voluntary contribution, no-one likes to be told that the numbers are going down. The spin influences the reality.

Keep up the thought-provoking posts.
May 16, 2018 11:52 PM # 
As the regulatory burden seems to keep increasing (and we in Australia have a magnitude burden increase coming up with child safety issues) I sometimes feel I might just switch back to an individual sporting pursuit like climbing or bushwalking.
May 21, 2018 6:14 AM # 
It's all about funding. Increased numbers means increased (or in the present case merely sustained) funding.
May 21, 2018 7:12 AM # 
Funding may definitely pay a role at national level to inflate numbers, but they have very little impact internationally. At least at the level orienteering is. I think that the danger of self deception is much larger.

Putting on a positive spin on club activities, sometimes with a tongue in cheek approach around a table with a few pitchers of beer, is something very different than pounding success stories to justify an inflated budget and a history of continuing losses in an international organisation.
May 21, 2018 8:14 AM # 
Mr Wonderful above has called my attention to something strange on the WOD website. The lawyers with expertise in internet law have confirmed it. The WOD website blatantly violates the GDPR law coming into force on 25 May. It does not comply even with current EU guidelines.

The GDPR requires that not only the current WOD website should be changed, but all data collected on the current website in a non-GDPR compliant way should be deleted before 25 May. All names, phone numbers, email addresses should go, unless explicit consent is obtained, one by one, from the volunteers signed up so far.

How could this happen? Was it an accidental mistake or intentional deception? Will the IOF comply or try get away with it? Is lawful operation is more important to the IOF leadership, or collecting volunteers' data for marketing lists even if the method is highly questionable?
May 21, 2018 10:14 AM # 
Just to note that GDPR is not new. The 25th May is not the time it comes into effect, but when the grace period of not applying huge fines for organisations that do not comply would be facing. The legislation is in effect already (if I am not mistaken, for 2 years), it is only getting high attention now because organisations are facing those huge (and I mean, millions of Euros) fines after this date.

BTW the law does not only apply to data on the website but all personal information captured/stored anywhere even if it is not exposed on a website, so I hope that IOF has all its data covered by the right processes... Consent is expected up front, although the consent may come in various forms (which is where it gets legal), and needs to be quite specific in approving the purpose it is used for (ie. you can't collect data just in case it will be useful). However, I think IOF have a very good justification and legitimate purpose in administering the organisation of the sport on behalf of its members and athletes to collect and manage all kinds of data, it just needs to be clear and explicit on a number of aspects of doing so. Being clear is also important, i.e. it isn't just sufficient to trust that someone in the organisation knows what to do - there must be clearly available policies available for anyone to see who is interested in what personal data the IOF has, how they are using it, and how I as an individual can get in touch for various purposes in context of that (for example, if I as a hypothetical elite athlete would want IOF to delete all my personal data, I need to have clear information on how I can request it).

So this goes way beyond WOD and is a nightmare for a lot of organisations BTW to implement.

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